This site is designed to make many of the works of Dr. Andrus available to those who are interested.
Hyrum was born and raised on a farm South of Rexburg, Idaho. As a teenager he began reading books from the family library while sitting on the ditch bank waiting for the next turn of the irrigation stream. Among his favorites were the Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, and Elder Pratt’s KEY To Theology, to which Hyrum became particularly attached; reading it over and over again. He also enjoyed Joseph Fielding Smith’s, Life of Joseph F. Smith and the Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt, as well as many other major scholars of LDS thought.
Hyrum’s first church assignment as Ward Clerk of the Lyman Ward came when he was 18. Two years later he also became President of the Lyman Ward Elder’s Quorum.
After the outbreak of World War II Hyrum was drafted into the Army in the spring of 1944 and became a member of the First Infantry Division, also known as the “Red One” which George Washington originally organized. On the 27 day voyage to his first assignment in the Philippine Islands, Hyrum spent most of his nights and free moments laying on a blanket under a lifeboat on the ship deepening his knowledge of the gospel as he poured through many LDS books he had brought along.
As part of his military experience, the then Sergeant Andrus was assigned to carry the U.S. Colors, when the Army was welcomed into Korea as an occupation force; after which he was made the Field Sergeant of his company. As Field Sergeant he helped establish law and order in Korea and assisted in directing the repatriation efforts of Koreans. Hyrum also spent a short period of time in China.
The day after he was officially released from the Army Hyrum was interviewed to serve as a missionary; and soon left for the East Central States Mission, with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. While on his mission, Hyrum and his companions baptized approximately sixty people during the first eight months. Because of his strong leadership and command of the gospel, he was quickly called to be the Supervising Elder of the eastern half of Kentucky. As part of this assignment he and Elder E. Paul Palmer were then asked to write a proselyting plan for the Mission as this was before the Church provided a standard outline. Elder Palmer focused on way to approach door conversations and Hyrum wrote nineteen lessons, with scriptural references that were designed to make a consistent proselyting message. Hyrum then worked with the Mission President to train all the missionaries on the new structure.
Hyrum returned home in early March 1949 and was married to Helen Mae Hillman 31 March 1949. He and Helen Mae grew up in the same farming community South of Rexburg, Idaho and had dated before he had gone to the army. Hyrum soon enrolled as a freshman at Ricks College now known as Brigham Young University – Idaho and was hired by President John L. Clarke to teach a five-hour missionary preparation class each week while working toward his Bachelor’s Degree he received in the spring of 1951.
During this period Hyrum wrote and with the help of the College published three editions of the proselyting plan entitled Helps For Missionaries. This was among the first of such works designed to give missionaries guidance on how to gain admittance into homes of potential investigators with proper gospel discussions in presenting the plan of salvation. In addition to the proselyting plans he also wrote the text of a program called Saints Of The Latter Days, which related incidents of early church history and which members of the Drama Department produced and presented over the local radio station.
Also while at Ricks College, Hyrum was asked to publicly discuss the subject of the Welfare State due to the strong debate among students at the time. This caused Hyrum to turn his interest to the concept of world government in the Latter-day Saint City of Zion — the New Jerusalem. It was during this time that he began to see how the plan of life revealed to Joseph Smith could solve the social, economic and political problems of the world. This event caused him to broaden his scope of interest in the gospel and to deepen his study of the life and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which would later become a major theme of his educational pursuit and his professional life.
During this time Hyrum also served on the Rexburg Stake Sunday School Board (Spring 1949) and as Stake Superintendent of the Rexburg Stake MIA (Spring 1949 – Summer 1951).
Hyrum and his wife, Helen Mae, who had her B.A. degree, enrolled in the graduate school at Brigham Young University in the summer of 1951. There Hyrum focused more of his attention on political and religious thought. In the spring of 1952 both Hyrum and Helen each received a Master’s Degree. Helen Mae wrote her Master’s Thesis on Joseph Smith’s Influence on the Church Welfare Program, and Hyrum wrote his Master’s Thesis on World Government As Envisioned In The Latter-Day Saint City of Zion.
Hyrum was then accepted in to a special doctoral program at the Maxwell Graduate School at Syracuse University in New York. Candidates for the doctoral program were selected by a qualified counsel of professors who flew around the country and personally interviewed and selected each candidate. Although Hyrum applied late, he was admitted on the basis of a 3.9 GPA in his prior graduate studies and stellar interviews.
Hyrum was given the academic freedom to continue his focus on the social, economic and political thought of Joseph Smith, which was an arduous undertaking at an eastern university in the 1950s. But notwithstanding constant skepticism by peers and professors, he was able to explain Joseph Smith’s more expansive views on the subject even though so little scholarly work had been done in the area. His study was a truly groundbreaking project.
In 1955 he was awarded a Doctor’s Degree in the fields of Political Science, History and American Citizenship with a nearly 700 page Doctoral Dissertation entitled, Joseph Smith, Social Philosopher, Theorist, And Prophet. Because of the basis of the work and where Hyrum was studying, to get the Dissertation accepted required in Hyrum’s words “one miracle after another”. In the end the Dissertation was accepted without him being required to change even one word from the way it was originally written.
While in Syracuse, Hyrum also served as the second, then first, Counselor in the Oneida District Presidency, which extended into Canada, and, at the same time, as District Mission President of the Oneida District (1951-55). It was an extremely busy and stressful time for Hyrum and his wife but he credits his ability to forge ahead to his Heavenly Father and the prayers of those around him. In fact, Hyrum still remembers one prayer that touched him deeply where the District President pleaded, “Lord please bless brother Andrus, that with all the help he is giving us, he might still be able to carry on his academic duties.”
After receiving his Ph.D. from Syracuse, Hyrum returned to Ricks College, where he was made the first Director of Religious Studies in the College Administration. Each student was required to take a two hour religion course each academic quarter. In addition to his teaching duties he conducted two programs at the local radio station, KRXK — one a discussion of gospel doctrines and the other an interview with prominent people in the area.
When Ricks College was changed to a two-year program Hyrum’s interest in doing further research prompted him to sell his home and farm and join the BYU faculty, where he became a noted Professor of Church History and Doctrine.
As an outgrowth of his research, discussions and lectures at Ricks and on BYU campus, Hyrum published Joseph Smith And World Government in the spring of 1958. This was the first analysis of Joseph Smith’s “Council of Fifty,” which he initially called the “General Council.” This was also the first volume to set forth a more accurate view of the westward move of the Church, by showing that Brigham Young directed the westward move as the administrator of the Council of Fifty. In addition, his work showed that that this Council not only directed the early colonization of the West, it also organized the State of Deseret as a political order in the spring of 1848, and became its legislative body.
When Hyrum and Helen Mae arrived in Provo, in the fall of 1956, he was immediately made a member of the High Council of the original BYU Stake, which was organized the previous January. After serving for one year, he was called to be the Stake Mission President of the BYU Stake. He served faithfully in the calling for five years and oversaw hundreds of baptisms. He was then called to serve as the Bishop of the BYU 27th Ward for several years. Later he was sustained as the First Counselor in the original BYU Tenth Stake Presidency, with Ivan J. Barrett as President.
Hyrum spent several periods doing research in the Church Historian’s Library in Salt Lake City. During the summer of 1968 he studied documents no existing person had studied since they were written. Many had been carried across the plains to Salt Lake City, but for lack of space they had not been put into the regular historical collection.
He also spent a lot of time in the Brigham Young University Library, where he became the Director of its LDS historical collection, (the second largest in the world) called “The Curator of the Mormon Experience.” His index of over 2000 documents was published under the title Mormon Manuscripts to 1846 – A guide to the holdings of the Harold B. Lee Library.
He also created several indexed publications of prominent people in early church history, including The Register Of The Nets Benjamin Lundwall Collection, The Newell Kimball Whitney Papers, and The Andrew G. Kimball Collection, making the contents of these early materials more available for research. These experiences brought Hyrum into contact with many journals and writings of people in the early history of the Church.
In 1994 Hyrum and Helen Mae went to England where they studied early manuscripts at the British Museum Library and at the Oxford and Cambridge University libraries, collecting historical materials on the true origins of American society that change the whole picture of the American founding.
Hyrum then continued his research, spending a month in Rome at the Vatican Library studying the Italian origins of modern liberty. While there he stayed in an abbey in Rome where he lived and ate with the Monks — an experience Hyrum to this day cherishes.
While on the faculty at Ricks College and BYU, Hyrum participated in Education Week Programs, and lectured on the Know Your Religion Programs throughout the West. He and Professor Ivan J. Barrett were selected to open up the Know Your Region Program, with twenty lectures east of the Mississippi River, Canada and Texas.
Hyrum and Helen Mae and their three sons moved to Alpine in the spring of 1984 and was soon called to serve on the Alpine Stake High Council and later as the Stake Superintendent of the Sunday School. In 1991 he and Helen Mae were made officiators in the Jordan River Temple; and after five years they were transferred to the new Mount Timpanogos Temple, where they continued their service until 2008.
Dr. Andrus is probably best known from his works God, Man and The Universe, Principles of Perfection, Doctrines of the Kingdom, Joseph Smith the Man and the Seer and They Knew The Prophet.
He has written several other books, numerous articles and given many seminars, talks and discussions. Hyrum has always given much credit to Helen Mae for her untiring support of his work and the many hours she has spent editing his writings and preparing them for publication.
I have know him mostly as Uncle Hyrum (his wife Helen Mae and my mom are sisters) but also as author, teacher and scholar of the gospel. My earliest memories of Hyrum are from his visits to the Rexburg area for Memorial Day and Thanksgiving holidays. These visits were always the occasion for a meal with grandma and grandpa Hillman. These were not just obligatory social visits but memorable events with challenges of who could eat the most. Serious challenges requiring before and after weigh-ins and shenanigans to increase the final weight. I especially recall the prodigious amounts of ice cream he could consume. Towering over the rest of us he had plenty of reserve storage. After dinner he would expound on any gospel subject you wanted to ask about.
When I went to BYU I took the occasion to take a religion class from him. It was a large class of at least 100 students. Like everyone else, I was captivated by the breath of his knowledge, his ability to quote not only scripture from the Standard Works, but also from the Journal of Discoursed, the history and writings of Joseph Smith, the Church History and a seeming unending list of histories, articles and books. And all this from a small set of notes he would bring to class. Hyrum not only brought a scholarly approach to his subjects, but did so in a way that kept the attention to the students. I recall one day he was late getting to class and the din of 100+ students did not subside when he reached the lectern. Without a word he bent down behind the podium, plugged in his microphone and proceeded to yodel several bars in perfect tone. Silence immediately reigned, he stood up and without a word, called on me to pray. Hyrum has an interesting personality and many tools to catch and hold the attention of his students and audiances.
After BYU I left for California to pursue a degree at the University of California, Davis. Work then took me to Modesto, California and later to Newark, Delaware. During those 30 plus years direct contact was limited to a few holidays and visits we made to their home when we were in Utah.
In 2006 I choose to retire and move to Utah to be closer to family and the mountains I grew up to love. High on my list of things to do was a visit with Hyrum and Helen Mae to renew family ties. That visit changed the direction of what I would do during retirement. Hyrum told me about the work he and Helen Mae were doing and showed me tapes and files filled with talks and seminars he had given over the years. Some of the tapes had been transcribed but little had been done to capture the tapes in digital format or to document the extent of his works.
That night it became clear to me another reason for retiring to Utah. After spending a couple of days wrestling with what I had come to know I went to visit with Hyrum again and told him what I needed to do. I did this not being sure at all what his response might be. I was also apprehensive because I was unsure I had the skills needed for the task at hand, but decided to leave the decision to him. The next day Hyrum called and said he had confirmation and I needed to get to work.
With that, I started an on-going project to identify the extent of his available works, to digitize and edit over 700 tapes and to organize materials into retrievable formats. With the help of many others we have established this website as a place to make available many of his works to the general public. The intent is to eventually make available many of his works in both text and MP3 audio versions of him making the presentation. These works include doctrinal discussions based on subjects from the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Bible. Most of this work is well referenced, thought provoking and presented in a scholarly yet easy to understand manner with a touch of humor which comes through better in the MP3 audios. Most of the talks are not “easy reading material” and were presented to live audiences with some questions and answers. Where allowed by the quality of the audio tape, these Q&As were captured.
The ideas presented in these works are not intended to be approved church doctrine but are scripturally based and thoroughly referenced and intended to help the reader with their personal studies.
About the Banner: The website banner includes a familiar photo of Dr. Andrus on the right with a colorized rendition of what may be a photo of Joseph Smith taken from the Scannel Deguerrotype on the right. In the background is a view of the east face of Mt. Timpanogos taken from the upper American Fork Canyon.